February 5, 2010 by Jason Brown
Today I was browsing through Glenn Beck’s website which I occasionally do, just to keep an eye on Brother Beck. As you may or may not know, Glenn always has prominent ads on his site, usually for his Gold and Silver people. But the top ad today was a link to this website: www.survivalseedbank.com which begins with the tagline: “More valuable than silver or gold in a real meltdown…” This ad prompted me to articulate the beginnings of an idea that has been brewing in my mind for a long time.
Although the Survival Seed site is filled with doomsday predictions of global collapse, tirades about police states and chock full of good old-fashioned Conservative fear mongering, I agree with the underlying message: we must become more self-reliant over our food supply. The exploding food movement, popular among liberals and back-to-the-land agrarians (like myself), touts the benefits of local food in abstract terms: lower greenhouse gases, fewer food miles, building community, etc. While I agree with these crucial benefits of local food; an emphasis on self-reliance is simple and broadly applicable to the conservative Mormon context. If we are to be successful “Mormon Workers” it is important that we are able to speak not only in the dialects of the broad Left, but also understand the wisdom of conservative ideas. Today’s, liberal new left emphasis on local food, food storage, food preservation, and rural livelihood skills, are bread and butter of our grandparents generation.
Survival Seeds goes on to say, “you don’t have to be an Old Testament prophet to see what’s going on all around us. A belligerent lower class demanding handouts. A rapidly diminishing middle class crippled by police state bureaucracy. An aloof, ruling elite that has introduced us to an emerging totalitarianism which seeks control over every aspect of our lives.” The rhetoric is clearly discernable. However, instead of turning this into a polemic, we could attempt to answer this type of rhetoric with what I would call Left-libertarian Right-Communitarian synthesis. To the above statement, we could easily suggest that corporate hand-outs far exceed the welfare programs which go to structurally disadvantaged populations, while agreeing that welfare can create a culture of dependency that the state is not very good at changing…. I could go on. The point is, as Mormon activists generally assuming to be on the left, we must figure out a way of harnessing the resistance to the state in both left and right worldviews in favor of communitarian solutions that foster responsible individuals and interdependent, self-reliant communities. And while I’m not ready to invite Brother Beck to the commune, I wouldn’t mind trading him my extra Red-Tomatoes for some of his Freedom Favas.